Posted on July 14, 2017
The fairness of any idea to reform partisan voting maps comes down to how the maps themselves end up being drawn. A lot of federal rules and longstanding traditions go into any effort to draw Congressional maps, including the plan from Voters Not Politicians (VNP). The key difference: We want to take the manipulation done by politicians out of the process. VNP’s proposal returns the power over drawing voting maps to the voters, where it belongs.
What would maps look like if the voters approve VNP’s initiative at the ballot box in 2018? How will federal Congressional and state Senate and House maps look? Let’s get into the details.
Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission: Ensuring Maximum Transparency, Meaningful Public Participation, and Independent Decision-making
Posted on July 13, 2017
One of the biggest faults of the current redistricting process is the lack of transparency or public participation. The state government is legally allowed to draw maps behind closed doors without any requirement for public input or oversight. This closed-door process allows politicians the freedom to manipulate and rig voting maps to give them the advantage in elections over the next decade. This allows politicians to choose their voters, instead of voters being able to choose their politicians.
Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission: Why Is This Commission Necessary and Who Will Be on It?
Posted on July 12, 2017
Every ten years, after the completion of the United States Census, new state legislative and congressional districts are created to reflect the new census data. In Michigan, this has been done by the Legislature and the Governor. Voters Not Politicians Ballot Committee (VNP) is proposing to amend Michigan’s Constitution to change this. The VNP proposal would take the power of redistricting away from the partisan politicians in the Legislature and Governor, and transfer this power to an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The Commission would consist of 13 registered Michigan voters who are randomly selected from people who apply. The Commission is designed so that all Michigan voters are represented, as fully as possible, in the process of drawing our districts. The final breakdown of the 13 members will consist of: four Republicans*, four Democrats*, and five independent members who affiliate with no party or a third-party.
Posted on July 10, 2017
As loyal Michiganders, we strive to be the best. We want the best economy. The best schools. The best future for our state and for our children. However, there are some things that we don’t want to be the best at (hint: gerrymandering is one of them). According to Bridge Magazine, Michigan is one of the best states in the nation at gerrymandering - and that isn’t something to be proud of.
Gerrymandering, or partisan redistricting, happens when politicians manipulate voting maps for their advantage. Rigging districts using advanced computer software allows politicians the ability to handpick their voters to give them the advantage to get re-elected in future elections. Gerrymandering leads to uncompetitive elections and politicians who pay more attention to their donors and lobbyists than their constituents.
Posted on June 19, 2017
It seems like a simple contract: We elect men and women to represent us, and their votes reflect our concerns about issues that are important to us. They are responsive to our needs and the issues we value. But manipulated voting maps in Michigan and other states can make elected seats so “safe,” the voices of voters can get the silent treatment.
Elected leaders who are sure they will win re-election, regardless of what they do, can become less responsive to voter concerns, particularly concerns of voters in a district’s minority party. When elected leaders win by 10, 20, maybe even 30 percent, what incentive do they have to listen to dissenting views among their voters? None. This is a big concern and it happens on both sides of the aisle. Consider a few recent examples from Republicans and Democrats.Read more...
Posted on June 12, 2017
Imagine you're playing cards, but when you don't like the hand you're dealt you reshuffle the deck until you deal yourself a better hand. Is that fair? Or is it stacking the deck to make sure the house always wins? Right now this is how the politicians in most states shuffle our voting districts around.
Here in Michigan, our votes determine who we elect to represent us. However, every 10 years the political parties in charge can re-draw the lines of our districts to decide which of our votes go where.Adjusting district maps is necessary because populations change and shift over time — but letting politicians draw the lines to advantage their own parties? That allows partisan redistricting by drawing voting districts to serve the party in charge of the process. It’s also known as gerrymandering and Michigan is one of 37 states that allows our legislators draw our districts.Read more...
Posted on June 03, 2017
We have a system of representative government, meaning that our state is divided into districts, and voters in each vote to send representatives to our state House and Senate, and to the U.S. House of Representatives. Those districts, in Michigan, are drawn by people we elect. Seems like a good system, right? We elect men and women, who take our interests to heart when they redraw the district voting maps every 10 years.
But that’s not necessarily happening. Things are out of whack because the men and women we elect have put party first when drawing voting maps, and that’s not good for anyone. In a fair system, districts are drawn in a transparent and impartial way for the purpose of democratic representation, not for the benefit of one party or another.
Posted on April 30, 2017
We all like to win. It’s a natural human instinct. But we also have a natural drive for fairness. Let’s talk about both.
But first, imagine a 100-yard dash between two runners. One runner works at the race track and has the power to set up the race. In order to get a leg up on their opponent, this runner adds 10 hurdles to their opponent’s lane and takes a jackhammer to the concrete while leaving their lane in perfect condition. Who do you think will win?Read more...
Posted on April 20, 2017
It’s worth asking the question. In order to answer, first consider the definition of gerrymandering.
“Gerrymander” is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it is the process of manipulating voting maps to favor one party over another. As a noun, it is the manipulated voting map itself. There are two parts to this definition: the manipulation by a partisan redrawing process, and the advantage the end result gives to the party that drew the maps. We’ll get to whether Michigan has partisan voting maps, but first, let’s answer a basic question.
Posted on April 20, 2017
How can you tell if you live in a gerrymandered district and just what does “gerrymandering” mean, anyway? Well, it’s a long word with an even longer history. Basically, gerrymandering happens when politicians manipulate voting maps to keep themselves or their parties in office at the expense of your interests. Without a doubt, it can lead to some situations that are even more complex than the word used to describe it.
So, how can you tell if your district was drawn for the benefit of politicians and not to ensure a fair, transparent, and democratic process where YOUR vote counts?